After General Motors endured a 40 day strike authorized by the United Automobile Workers union back in September, Ford Motor Company was able to avoid a similar situation by reaching a tentative agreement with the (embattled) union brass on November 1st. While the tentative deal has yet to be ratified by union workers, it has provided us with an interesting bit of information about the upcoming Ford Bronco 4×4 SUV.
As part of the agreement with the UAW, Ford has released a breakdown of assembly operations and plant investments over the next couple of years. The folks at the Bronco 6G forum were the first to speculate about the fact that the Dearborn Stamping and Dearborn Diversified Manufacturing Plant will produce panels for the reborn Ford Bronco. While this is not earth shattering information, it does become more interesting when you consider this is the facility that makes aluminum panels for the current F-150 pickup truck. While we know the next-gen Bronco is not based on the F-150 platform, that doesn’t mean Ford won’t use similar materials in the off-road SUV’s construction.
Both the current Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition utilize aluminum body panels extensively, further highlighting Ford’s preference for the weight saving metal. Lowering the weight of a vehicle helps with dynamics and with overall efficiency, though aluminum panels don’t come without drawbacks. When damaged, aluminum panels are said to be harder and more expensive to repair than their steel counterparts. While this normally isn’t a consideration for buyers, it may be for those who take their vehicles away from the pavement and onto sometimes treacherous trails.
The current generation Jeep Wrangler uses a mixture of steel and aluminum body panels, which could also be Ford’s plan for the Bronco. Based on the USPTO filings that we’ve reported on related to the upcoming Bronco, it would make sense for Ford to utilize a lighter material to construct removable panels such as the doors.
Finally, it’s believed that the next-generation Ford F-150, set to be revealed next year, will dial back its aluminum usage, and take on a more mixed material approach, using steel in sections of the body where it makes sense.
For now we will have to wait until more information about the upcoming Ford Bronco, which is slated to be unveiled in the spring of 2020.